Stanley Kubrick Mini Season: Dr Strangelove

  • PG

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Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is producer/director Stanley Kubrick's brilliant, satirical, provocative black comedy/fantasy regarding doomsday and Cold War politics that features an accidental, inadvertent, pre-emptive nuclear attack. The undated, landmark film - the first commercially-successful political satire about nuclear war, has been inevitably compared to another similar suspense film released at the same time - the much-more-serious and melodramatic Fail-Safe (1964). However, this was a cynically objective, Monty Python-esque, humorous, biting response to the apocalyptic fears of the 1950s.

In 1964, with the Cuban Missile Crisis fresh in viewers' minds, the Cold War at its frostiest, and the hydrogen bomb relatively new and frightening, Stanley Kubrick dared to make a film about what could happen if the wrong person pushed the wrong button – and played the situation for laughs. Dr. Strangelove's jet-black satire (from a script by director Stanley Kubrick, Peter George, and Terry Southern) and a host of superb comic performances (including three from Peter Sellers) have kept the film fresh and entertaining, even as its issues have become (slightly) less timely. Loaded with thermonuclear weapons, a U.S. bomber piloted by Maj. T.J. "King" Kong (Slim Pickens) is on a routine flight pattern near the Soviet Union when they receive orders to commence Wing Attack Plan R, best summarized by Maj. Kong as "Nuclear combat! Toe to toe with the Russkies!" On the ground at Burpleson Air Force Base, Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) notices nothing on the news about America being at war. Gen. Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) calmly informs him that he gave the command to attack the Soviet Union because it was high time someone did something about fluoridation, which is sapping Americans' bodily fluids (and apparently has something to do with Ripper's sexual dysfunction). Meanwhile, President Merkin Muffley (Sellers again) meets with his top Pentagon advisors, including super-hawk Gen. Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott), who sees this as an opportunity to do something about Communism in general and Russians in particular. However, the ante is upped considerably when Soviet ambassador de Sadesky (Peter Bull) informs Muffley and his staff of the latest innovation in Soviet weapons technology: a "Doomsday Machine" that will destroy the entire world if the Russians are attacked.

"Perhaps Kubrick's most perfectly realised film, simply because his cynical vision of the progress of technology and human stupidity is wedded with comedy, in this case Terry Southern's sparkling script in which the world comes to an end thanks to a mad US general's paranoia about women and commies." ★★★★★ Time Out

Dir: Stanley Kubrick

Featuring: Peter Sellers, George C Scott

Run Time: 95 mins

English

*"This project is supported by Film Hub North West Central, proud to be a member of the BFI Film Audience Network" *

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